The All India Football Federation's (AIFF) chief Praful Patel, is in the firing line of Goa's football clubs yet again.
In a press conference scheduled for the unveiling of the Indian Women’s League, on Tuesday 24th January, Patel expressed in a dig at Goan clubs who'd wound up their I-League operations, "The clubs which have pulled out were not investing in football. They blame other reasons but the real reason is that they don't have bandwidth now to continue."
In reply to the newly re-elected President of Indian football, Sporting Clube de Goa President Peter Vaz retorted to The Herald, “I don’t understand what ‘bandwidth’ means according to Praful (Patel). If he means that we don’t have the necessary requirements to participate in the I-League then I would like to make it clear that the initial entry to participate in the league was dropped from Rs 100 crore to 1 crore.
“This shows that any level clubs can join the I-League and that the Goan clubs have high standard and are overgrown with youth grassroot development programme."
“Praful should realize that football is not a game of politics. It is a ball game. He is totally unfit to run the Federation. Wherever Praful has been associated with that particular association or industry has not been successful. Praful is an ignorant person and his statement has no value. He doesn’t know what is important for AIFF and he keeps on changing his statement every year.
"Earlier Praful had said that I-league was important and later changed his view saying that the league has to be merged with ISL,” elaborated the Flaming Oranje chief, firing up the cylinders with a verbal assault on Patel.
Fellow Goan club Salgaocar FC's patron-in-chief, Shivanand Salgaocar, also joined Vaz in scything the priorities of the AIFF.
“AIFF has no clarity and vision. They keep on changing track and then blame others for the same. They change their plans and expect others to dance to their tunes," blazed the chief of the Greens.
Salgaocar also cited the loss of players such as Arata Izumi to second division I-League team Neroca, to explain the drop in the standards of the nation's top tier.
"Top players like Arata Izumi and Thangjam Saran Singh are playing in the Second Division. It just shows the depth of I-League. After the withdrawal of Goan teams the standard of the league has dropped very much,” he explained.
Salgaocar also parried away suggestions about the lack of clarity of the future of his I-League team. “As far as Salgaocar FC is concerned I will do what I feel is right. The AIFF changes its statement every other day. One day they say I-League is supreme while other day they say that the I-League and ISL should be merged. The club cannot dance on AIFF tunes,” emphasized the chief.
The duo was joined by their third colleague, Srinivas Dempo, the owner of Dempo SC.
“The reason why Goan teams have stopped continuing in the I-League is that the clubs did not find the proper revenue model in place. It is only for the love of the game and Goa that the Goan clubs have continued for the last five decades. There is a limit as to how much one should go on spending. The expenditure was going up, every year the clubs were not finding revenue to that extent. This is the reason why the clubs opted out of the I-League,” concluded the Golden Eagles' boss.
The triumverate of former I-League clubs had announced their departure from the nation's top division earlier last year. Sporting Goa and Salgaocar together unleashed a cesspool of ill-feeling toward the Indian FA, in an official statement announing their withdrawal from the league.
It was then followed by another statement from the Sporting Goa camp which can be read here.
Finally, Dempo too pulled hte plug on their I-League ambitions.